He has even caught the eye of Howard, who has been on a rehab assignment with the BlueClaws. Howard and Duffy have hit No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, in the order.
"My focus [in the ninth inning] was making sure to get one run home and let Big Duff take care of the rest," Howard said.
Big Duff has taken care of nearly everything thrown his way during the 15-game hitting streak that he carried into Friday's game. In the 10 games before Friday night, Duffy knocked multiple hits in eight games, crushed two homers, provided the heroics in a walk-off win, and was mashing at a .546 rate.
"I can't really explain it," Duffy said. "Baseball is a roller-coaster and you just have to ride it. Right now the roller-coaster ride just keeps going up."
The key has been his plate discipline. In Clearwater, he hit a dismal .205 in 73 at-bats. In that time, he struck out 25 times and walked just six times. In 31 more at-bats in Lakewood, he has struck out fewer times (23) and walked 15 times.
"That's been a big, big part of it," he said.
Duffy has also been soaking up his time with Howard. He took a picture of the lineup card posted to the wall with his name and Howard's name back-to-back. He sent the photo to some friends.
During batting practice, Duffy asked Howard a couple of questions about his approach at the plate.
Then Howard fielded some ground balls and Duffy paid close attention. After Howard finished his on-field workout, Duffy went up and asked him questions about how he fields his position.
Finally, Howard was leaving the field Thursday headed through the dugout back to the clubhouse before the game when Duffy approached Howard again, this time to pick Howard's brain on life in the majors.
"That guy has to be annoyed with me by now," Duffy said with a smile.
Duffy is one of the many minor-leaguers in the Phillies farm system who took a turn picking the brain of major- league all-stars this week, as Chase Utley made his final rehab appearance for triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday and Howard made his first with Lakewood on Thursday.
The sole purpose of minor-league assignments is to get major leaguers prepared for MLB action. But the trips have secondary effects - stadiums fill to capacity, while players get to learn from men who already went through the minor-league system. Plus, the expensive steak dinners the pros usually buy for the team after games don't hurt. Howard treated Lakewood to steak Thursday night.
Brock Stassi has been the extra player on the bench during Howard's assignment. The first baseman and outfielder understands the role and said he learns even more riding the bench while talking to major leaguers than he would playing without major leaguers around.
"Howard can play all he wants here, man," Stassi said. "Not only has he earned it, but he's great for the guys here and the clubhouse here. You can learn so much just from watching a guy like that."
Duffy has gotten the chance to learn from Howard while playing. It's time he said he'll never forget.
"Man it's the craziest thing," Duffy said. "Just a few years ago I was playing my brother in video games and playing as Ryan Howard. And now this? It's crazy."
Brown out of action
Domonic Brown landed on the disabled list Wednesday after an evaluation by doctors Tuesday. Brown hasn't played since leaving a June 14 game with a right knee strain.
"The diagnosis is that he's a little bit further than seven days out from actually playing in a game," Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Ryne Sandberg told the Express-Times of Easton. "That's all it comes to. It's no surprise, as far as time frame goes. He'll need to get at-bats; he's not going to sit 31/2 weeks and just step into a triple-A game. It's not that it's worse than it was or anything."
Sandberg's statement conflicts what was said when the injury occurred. At the time, Sandberg said Brown wasn't expected to miss more than seven to 10 days.
At one point in his career, Brown was widely considered the Phillies' top prospect. He finally started to hit his stride in triple-A before the injury. Brown was hitting .297 with three homers in the 10 games before getting hurt. On the season, he's hitting .266 with four homers.
Contact Chad Graff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-4550. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGraff.